By Maya Rader
Daego Albero has been working for the past three months at Valley Shepherd Creamery, a 120-acre sheep farm and cheese making facility in Morris County, New Jersey. The creamery makes sausages and dairy products including cheese, butter and yogurt.
On an average day, Albero pumps milk, boils it, presses it and molds it. He also cleans dishes. “Everything has to be clean, always,” explained Albero.
One of Albero’s favorite parts of his job is working in the aging caves.
“We age the cheese in a cave because the conditions are not the same (as elsewhere),” said Albero.
Cheesemakers have been using caves for centuries because of the high humidity and cool temperature. Albero likes working in the caves because it is cooler. In other areas of the facility, Albero explained he’s “working in a cheese room that is maybe 100 degrees and really high humidity.” The heat is his least favorite part of the job.
Albero also enjoys learning more about cheese making. “I didn’t know nothing about cheese making when I came; I’m still learning a lot of things,” said Albero.
Albero grew up in Spain, where he went to college and got a degree in environmental science. He said this degree helped him understand the science behind his current profession. Albero said, “I know what I’m doing. I know how the chemical compounds degrade to make fiber. I know how these things happen.”
Albero’s favorite cheese that he sells at Valley Shepherd Creamery is the manchego with cracked pepper because manchego cheese is Spanish.
To get to the Stuyvesant Town Greenmarket, Albero wakes up at 4:50 a.m. It takes about one and a half hours to travel to the market from New Jersey, but may take longer if there is traffic. Valley Shepherd Creamery can also be found at the Union Square, Inwood, Tribeca, Princeton and Rutgers farmers’ markets.
Albero said he likes some markets more than others. “Some of them are really slow and you get bored,” said Albero. He said he likes the Stuyvesant Town Greenmarket because, “it’s not so slow, it’s in a good place, you have people who are nice.”
He also learns a lot from speaking to customers. “It’s interesting because there are so many different people here,” said Albero.
Sometimes he chats with his American customers about places to visit in New York City, and he in turn tells them about Spain and its culture. Albero came to America to travel and said he’s found it’s interesting to live and work here.
When asked if he would return to Spain after working at Valley Shepherd Creamery, Albero said, “Yes and no. I will go back to Spain, but not after this work. After this work I want to keep traveling.”